Around two years ago, when the launch of Drupal 8 was just around the corner and the main topic of concern was the status of the issue queue (the number of open issues, issue priority, etc), the Drupal community slowly started murmuring about a topic outside of technical solutions and patches. The time we spent working on Drupal 8 was certainly long, and in talking about the state of the project, contributors became stressed out and tired from the pressure that the workload and demand put on them. It started at DrupalCon Barcelona in 2015, where Mike Bell held an honest and wonderfully open keynote about Mental Health and Open Source, where he broke the silence about how psychological health affects work in open source. I was there in Barcelona when Mike stepped on stage and started telling his story, and I was deeply touched by it.
I remember sitting there and listening to him, and I couldn’t stop thinking about how brave he was for telling such a private story, and how hard it must have been for him. I realized that I had never seen anyone in the community open up this much about this topic, especially not in such a public setting.
His talk opened a door and, as a result, many people in the community started talking about their own struggles and feelings. It became clear that this was a huge concern within the community, and it was necessary to discuss these things, so that the humans behind the accounts of tireless and dedicated contributors could be revealed, appreciated, and cared for.
One wonderful result of this movement towards openness was a brand new DrupalCon track. Thanks to an initiative driven by Emma Karayiannis, Being Human made its debut at DrupalCon Dublin in 2016, and was continued in Baltimore earlier this year and will take session slots at the DrupalCon in Vienna this September as well. The track was extremely well received, as it provides a great opportunity for everyone to come forward, talk about their experiences in the journey of working with others, of working with open source, and last but definitely not least, to share stories about how they overcame their personal challenges, how they make decisions, and how they take care of themselves and others.
In mid May, I received an email from Amanda from the emails, from the Drupal Association, and my heart stopped for a second - she asked if I was interested in being on the Track Team of Being Human as the local track chair, working with Emma Karayiannis, who is the creator of the track, and is truly someone I look up to, and Juan Olalla, who I was really happy to meet in Prague last year, and who is a great partner in crime in all this.
I was honestly surprised and felt so grateful to even be considered as a candidate for this position. So, because I personally find this topic extremely important and useful, I said yes. After organizing two Drupal camps in 2016 (Drupalaton and Drupal Iron Camp), being involved in various community activities, succeeding in my full-time job, and of course trying to live my private life, at the beginning of this year I really understood what it means to burn out, and I started to make the first steps towards recovering from that.
I personally believe that talking about our struggles, hearing about how others deal with theirs, and asking for help, whether it’s about personal, community-related, or team/work-related issues, is extremely important and can be very helpful for all of us. No matter if we are freelancers or work with larger teams, if we are project managers, or site builders, or developers, if we already contribute to the project, or we are just figuring out how to contribute, we are all human.
The Being Human track at DrupalCon Vienna is designed to be a way of supporting each other, not from a technical or knowledge-based approach, but from a very personal perspective. We expect people from all around the world (not only from Drupal, but from outside this community as well) to share their experiences and tell their stories about various interesting and exciting topics.
We are looking forward to hear:
- advice and knowledge on successful ways of working and collaborating with others.
- views on how we can provide and maintain a safe, welcoming, empowering, and inclusive community for everyone.
- experiences with mental health issues, and how we can support ourselves, those around us, and the community at large.
Here are the talk topic keywords (if you still would like to hear more):
- Collaboration, productivity, team management, conflict, effective communication, empathy.
- Diversity, inclusion, culture, values, ethics, safe environment, community building, contribution, support, mentorship.
- Mental health, physical health, impostor syndrome, burnout, work/life balance, failure, asking for help, fear, mindfulness, happiness, procrastination.
If you feel that you have something to say about any of these topics, or you have something new that we should include this time, I would like to ask you to submit a session proposal.
The deadline of Call for Papers is June 28, 23:59 Vienna time (UTC+2, EST/UTC-5). Decisions about the selected sessions will be posted by August 1.
Looking forward to hearing from you! If you have any questions about your ideas in mind, feel free to reach out to me via my drupal.org profile or on Twitter.